Remembering Loved Ones on Holidays, Anniversaries and Special Days
Sometimes bereaved persons feel sad not only that their loved one is no longer here, but also that others seem reluctant to talk about him or her. Required business like removing names from documents, check books and even address labels raises concerns that memories of their loved one are being “deleted.” Worse yet, they may fear that even they will forget. Special days play a role in helping us keep our memories alive.
Admittedly, special days like anniversaries, birthdays and holidays are bittersweet. They trigger memories of good times past. They remind us, sometimes very painfully, that our loved one isn’t here this year. Special days can also provide opportunity. They invite us to remember the good times shared in the past with our loved ones. They give us a chance to think about, talk about or take action that allows us to honor someone who continues to be special and important to us. Special days create an occasion to invite others to join with us in remembering.
There’s no one “right way” to honor a holiday, anniversary or special day. What’s important is that we ask ourselves what it is we want to do.
Some Things to Consider:
- What outcomes would I like? What do I hope to experience or express?
- What memories or values of my loved one will I honor? What sentiments will I express?
- Will I do this privately? Tell others later? Invite others to an event?
- Will this be a gathering or happen within another event? Where? When?
- Public: Planned or spontaneous? Informal sharing? Reading? Symbolic action?
- Private: Dedicating a memorial object? Giving a donation? Setting up a fund? Providing service in the name of the one we honor/remember?
- Light a memorial candle at the table or for several hours on a special day.
- Plan a remembering celebration with family or friends. Exchange stories about your loved one. Serve his or her favorite foods. Share a toast.
- Duplicate and frame favorite photo(s) of your loved one for family gifts.
- Make a list of all the ways your loved one enriched your life and continues to influence you.
- Visit favorite places from your life with your loved one and savor your memories.
- Do something your loved one enjoyed: Attend a play, concert, theme park, baseball game.
- Plant a tree, dedicate a memorial brick or a park bench in your loved one’s name.
- Create something: a quilt or teddy bear from your loved one’s favorite clothes.
- Plant a garden or set up a bird feeder in your loved one’s favorite place.
- Arrange for remembrance of your loved one at a Mass or other religious service.
- Donate flowers/plants to your church, synagogue or place of worship in honor of your loved one.
- Donate objects or materials to be used in worship or education in your loved one’s name.
- Set up a memorial scholarship or fund in honor of your loved one.
- Make a donation to your loved one’s favorite charity.
- Volunteer your time to a person in need or to an organization in honor of your loved one.
- Visit/bring flowers to the cemetery.
However you choose to do it, find a way just right for you to commemorate your loved one. Remember that your loved one was here and that he or she continues to make a difference in your life.